Monday, March 17, 2014

Just add some joy

Thousands of people live with mental illness all day, every day.

Remember Monk, the OCD former detective and private eye, who made that particular mental illness funny and almost glamorous? Viewers loved to laugh at him because of his obsessive ways, which, by the way, also helped him solve some cases.

Listen to random conversations and chances are bipolar disorder will come up. The condition seems to be more common lately. Not sure if more doctors diagnose this disorder or more people have it.

Those with bipolar disease are hard to live with. One minute they seem fine, the next minute something snaps and they are having a hissy fit throwing furniture and punches. Medication helps, but many patients say they do not like the way the drugs make them feel.

People often misunderstand depression. Though sadness and depression differ, many people do not know the distinction. A well-meaning friend once told me to go find some joy. If only the solution were that easy. 

Depression lurks behind the curtains and inside closets. Turn your back and it catches you, closes its arms around you, and you find yourself unable to breathe. 

Then doubt and guilt crawl out of their hiding places to torment you incessantly. Doubt will demand you question your every move. Once you believe what doubt puts in front of you, guilt takes over. Everything you do, you doubt, then castigate yourself for your actions or inaction. 

Sleep becomes the retreat for the overwhelming weight of sadness, guilt and doubt. Asleep, the volume of accusations falls to barely a whisper, and relief comes. 

Depressed people can be great actors. Meet them on the street and they exude joy and happiness. Inside, they want to run. 

So how do you help a depressed person? Be a friend. Offer understanding if the depressed person cannot go to the movies as planned. Don't say you know how the depressed person feels, because you do not. Call or Facebook every now and then to let them know you care.

I know being a friend to someone who has depression sucks. If you want to run the other way, that is OK. 

I miss you so much, Dude.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I am sitting here with my third cup of coffee, already considering a nap. I am sleepy. I have medicines scheduled in a couple of hours, yet I wonder if I could put them off fot a few hours.

In all my 65 years I have never eaten corned beef and cabbage. So Ms. Cook here, who has not had many successful forays into the kitchen lately, will put the beef, onions, potatoes, and spices into a large pan and simmer. Then Cindy O'Leary will celebrate the holiday in style.

I used to know my way around the kitchen pretty well. Not Top Chef well, but good enough for the journalists I worked with. Sometime in the past 10 years or so, my cooking skills tanked. Scrambling eggs can be hit or miss. The whole cooking thing would be easier if I knew what I wanted to eat. I buy items at the store thinking I will make so and so. Or, I have not had such and such for such a long time, I will get that. Once the ingredients are at home in the cabinets, I forget the reason I bought them or I and mentally kick myself. How could I possibly think I would make beef bourguignon?

I will admit cooking this way has one advantage. I have lost about 10 pounds the past year. Apples and peanut butter are stables in my diet. Doc should be happy.

Off for the nap.

Laters, Dude.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Giving it another try

Well, here I am again. Rust covers my writer's brain and my fingers find it hard to find the proper keys.

Physically, my body holds together pretty well. The extra oxygen when I am out and about helps, and hauling extra tanks around  might even count as weight training. I avoided the hospital for more than a year. Only one little problem intrudes into my seemingly good life.

Every time I jump up and turn sharply to the right or left, I lose my balance and spend the next few seconds trying to remain upright. Once I caught myself against the sliding glass doors. Another time I staggered like a drunk at closing time and finally fell/sat on the chair. Dr. Cindy here figures the problem might be an inner ear infection. Or maybe another one of those glorious conditions that happens to those who are closer to death than first grade.

That part of me that controls the rest of me, fails to measure up. I want to curl into a ball the size of a pea and hide in the corner behind the table beside the couch.

With PH, one gets a "weighty" chest. Pressure like an elephant sitting on you. Mentally I feel that elephant in my head and cannot see beyond the gray shadows. On those days, I take my medicines and sleep. When I wake again, I take more medicines and sleep some more.

Those days the world ignores me and carries on as worlds do. I feel guilty. I feel I do not live up to a standard that my parents, teachers, friends, etc., expect of me. I never measure up, least of all to myself.

Sometimes I am so not myself that even my best friend questions my actions. We were standing in the bill pay line at the grocery story. My friend had several bills and money orders to purchase. The line grew long and waiters were mostly men. My friend and I discussed what she was going to feed her family for supper. I turned to the man behind me and asked him what he was having for supper. At first, he was stunned, then he said, "Chicken," and laughed. It seems in my old age, I talk to strangers, something I
would never do when I was younger. I guess I figure I can get away with crazy old lady.

Most days, I do not go outside. I want to be left alone but at the same time I want someone to notice.

I find my mind wandering. Positive thoughts going out to a CFers having a hard time.

Later, Dude.